Kids spend more time in a virtual, instead of a natural world

Today's kids are growing up in a far different world than I grew up in so many years ago. As can be expected, they are technically literate, since technology has always been a major focus of their lives. They're multi-taskers and are proficient at juggling sports, school and the constant communication demands of social interests. They use the Internet for entertainment via online videos, online games and virtual worlds or to download music and use social networking sites. Cell phones have made their communications immediate, whether texting messages to friends or visiting a website, it is accomplished instantly in the palm of the hand.

Despite the convenience of such modern amenities, today's kids have less freedom, due primarily to several generations of parents that had too much. They also have a huge, daily load of schoolwork and are under constant pressure to fulfill expectations to possess either a perfect resume by age 18, or have the SAT scores necessary to be accepted by a college that guarantees their success. It was much easier being a kid in the day of Leave it to Beaver and Andy of Mayberry.

With so many responsibilities, it's a wonder that today's kids have any time to play, yet the most disturbing news is that their play is far different than anything we could have possibly imagined.

"This is a stunner," explained Donald F. Roberts, a Stanford communications professor and an author of a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, "In the second report, I remember writing a paragraph saying we've hit a ceiling on media use, since there just aren't enough hours in the day to increase the time children spend on media. But now it's up an hour."

Even while conducting the survey of more than 2,000 students in grades 3 to 12 from October 2008 to May 2009, media use was changing. "One of the hot topics today is Twitter, but when we first went into the field and began interviewing, Twitter didn't exist," a researcher explained.

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